Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Cam Barker clears waivers; what's it mean?

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: June 29, 2011 - 12:53 PM

Wild defenseman Cam Barker cleared waivers this morning and was not immediately placed back on unconditional waivers.

However, the Wild can still place him on unconditional waivers by 11 a.m. CT Thursday and the buyout process can be enacted within the rules of the 4 p.m. Thursday first buyout period deadline.

So, in other words, Barker could still be put on unconditional waivers Thursday and still be bought out as long as he clears Friday at 11 a.m. -- even though the buyout deadline is the day before.

GOT IT?

Also, after talking to a number of agents and NHL executives this morning, there are different strategies that could be in play here:

1. The Wild could have a trade in the works, either for Barker, or another defenseman.

2.  Fletcher is holding on to Barker to attempt to trade him next month with the calculated guess that some of the many teams that need to get to the salary-cap floor won't be able to fulfill that via free agency.

3. The Wild plans to buy Barker out for one-third before the second buyout deadline.

For that to happen, the Wild needs one of its players to file for arbitration or to take one of its players to arbitration.

From what I can tell, the only arbitration-eligible restricted free agent is Darroll Powe. So either he'd need to file for arbitration by July 5 or the Wild would have to take him to arbitration by July 6.

Then, this would buy the Wild basically another month to make a decision on Barker. You have until 48 hours after your last salary arbitration award OR settlement to buy out a player.

If you remember, the Wild did this with Mark Parrish in 2008. Forty-eight hours after the Wild avoided arbitration with Pierre-Marc Bouchard by settling on a five-year contract, the Wild bought out Parrish.

As of now, Barker continues as Wild property theoretically like nothing happened. Again, remember, waivers in the NHL aren't like waivers in other sports. He wasn't "waived."

--Interesting, but one thing that makes Barker so unappealing is his $3.25 million salary -- a salary that was given because the Chicago Blackhawks didn't file qualifying offers in time by the deadline in 2009.

The NHLPA eventually filed a grievance saying the guys in question -- Kris Versteeg, Barker and others -- should become unrestricted free agents. The Blackhawks finally re-signed Barker to a 3-year deal worth $3.08 million a season -- or way more than his QO would have been.

Now the same thing's allegedly happening with Nashville. The NHL says there's nothing to see here, but the NHLPA is investigating whether RFA's like Sergei Kostitsyn, Nick Spaling and five others got their QO's properly tendered in time Monday. Pay attention to this over the coming days.

--How about Tomas Kopecky getting 3 a year from Florida, a team that has to spend more than $20 million to get to the salary-cap floor? 

This is not a good thing for the league. A number of teams will now overpay players to get to the floor and by doing so will dramatically inflate salaries (without merit) and make the arbitration system even more flawed than it already is.

The trickle-down effect plays havoc with the whole system. Plus, with the collective bargaining agreement soon to expire, if the cap goes down, how will these teams move these players? What a mess.

--Oh, and regarding the previous blog, Roger Federer blew a 2-set lead in Wimbledon quarterfinals and Andrew Brunette's trip is wrecked.

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